SPS 2019: Edge computing becomes the basis of industrial IoT in realizing the digital factory

With more than 60,000 visitors, the SPS fair that took place in Nuremberg, Germany, at the end of November was once again a real hot spot for the industrial automation industry. Edge computing was clearly one of the key topics at the fair. Edge computing avoids cloud latency by allowing real-time data processing directly at the edge of a network. This means computing power and applications are provided as close as possible to the data source, which avoids latency and reduces network traffic. It became evident at the fair that the topic of “edge computing” encompasses many different relevant technologies for the factory space (such as industrial automation, industrial IoT, 5G campus networks analytics, and machine learning). The intention is to use these digital technologies to optimize factory operations and build increasingly autonomous factory systems that interact with each other in real time. Companies such as Siemens, Bosch Rexroth, or German Edge Cloud demonstrated at the SPS how they help clients to achieve this with edge computing solutions. This is a short summary of newly emerging edge computing solutions from the SPS and of other news related to industrial IoT.

New Siemens edge portfolio and expansion of MindSphere World

The Siemens Industrial Edge portfolio is one example currently emerging in the market. Siemens Industrial Edge comprises an Industrial Edge Management System, edge devices, and edge apps. The Industrial Edge Management System is a tool for the central management of all edge devices and edge apps. Today, only SIMATIC edge devices are supported. In the future, though, the open industrial edge runtime from Siemens can also be installed on third-party devices such as other industrial PCs. Edge apps are container-based apps from Siemens, and also from clients and 3rd parties, which can be accessed via a central app store. Some apps are already available for download in this so-called Siemens Industrial Edge App Store.

In addition, Siemens announced at the SPS that the MindSphere World community had grown to more than 120 members and kept expanding to more and more regions across the world. However, the most interesting information in our view was the fact that the expansion of the MindSphere community also includes new industries such as insurance and banking. Deutsche Bank, HDI Risk Consulting, and Bayern LB have joined the MindSphere community. In addition, MindSphere World will be holding a Financial Summit in 2020 (target audience are CFOs), hosted by Deutsche Bank.

Bosch Rexroth presents new automation platform - ctrlX

Another emerging edge portfolio is ctrlX. Bosch Rexroth presented ctrlX for the first time, a new automation platform based on an open, app-based software architecture. With the new ctrlX automation system, different apps for motion control, PLC control, and IoT can be programmed through advanced programming languages like Python and can run on one operating system, a Linux version of Ubuntu. The system can be run on an embedded PC (ctrlX Core), industrial PC (ctrlX IPC), and directly in the drive (ctrlX Drive).

ONCITE platform captures clients’ attention

The ONCITE platform was presented at a fair for the first time (at the RITTAL booth) and got a lot of attention from visitors. ONCITE is an industrial edge cloud appliance which combines hardware, software, and services to form a fully integrated industrial IoT platform “out of the box” at the edge. It is a joint solution from German Edge Cloud, start-up IoTOS (both part of Friedhelm Loh Group, as is RITTAL), and Bosch Connected Industry.

ADAMOS starts IoT app store and Open Industry 4.0 Alliance becomes more visible

ADAMOS, the vendor of an industrial IoT platform, for the first time presented the beta version of its add-on IoT application marketplace called ADAMOS HUB. However, it is not yet clear when this IoT app store will be publicly available.

The Open Industry 4.0 Alliance, an organization established in 2019, was also present at a fair for the first time. Their ambition is to build an open framework for Industry 4.0, based on open standards. We took the opportunity to talk to the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance’s Nils Herzberg, Global Head Strategic Partnerships for Digital Supply Chain and Industry 4.0 at SAP and chairman of the board of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance. Click here for a short report based on this interview, which provides more detail on this initiative.

To sum up, a lot is happening right now around edge computing and industrial IoT, and there is bound to be more in 2020.